September 21, 2015: Like Arjuna in the Mahabharata, who could only see the eye of the bird he was meant to shoot, Anirban Lahiri had fixed his gaze on a PGA Tour card for 2016. At the end of the first two of four events on Web.com Tour Finals, the Indian golfer is nearly assured of turning that goal into reality. It is an impressive feat, to say the least, considering that he is set to be just the second Indian after Arjun Atwal to accomplish the feat.
Early successes in the season helped Anirban set sail for greener pastures with grit and determination packed in his bag of obedient clubs. Victories at the Malaysian Open and Indian Open subsequently might have left many of his ilk in India very satisfied.
Anirban though is cut from a different fabric. He used those victories as the fuel he needed to soar into the distance in pursuit of his potential. At the end of the third round of the PGA Championship, when Anirban looked like a lock for a top 10 finish – one asked the golfer if that would be a satisfying outcome.
“I think I can do much better,” responded Anirban, drawing from the well of his self-belief. True to his word, Anirban chased down the men in front with an infectious zeal to finish T5 at the final major of the year. Most men may have celebrated such a result, but Anirban walked off the course berating himself for the bogey at the final hole.
That extra shot at the par-4 18th cost him the PGA Tour card and it was educating to see Anirban suffer the consequence, despite an amused Matt Kuchar goading him to celebrate the finish rather than ruminate over the bogey.
After spending a few days in India, team Anirban realised that just as a door closed at the Whistling Straits another window opened in the form of the Web.com Tour Finals. The four event series is a season ending festival that offers 25 PGA Tour cards, besides helping determine the pecking order of the 50 cards that are issued annually through the feeder tour.
Anirban Lahiri pursues his dreams with a rare determination
Playing with customary determination, Anirban has been battling these past two weeks – finishing T6 and T16 at the first two weeks to all but seal his card. The fact that the 27 year old golfer managed to accomplish this despite less than impressive numbers off his bag, is a tribute to the young man’s grit and determination.
The Indian is currently lying 7th in the Tour Finals race with an earnings of $49,750 – with the 25th ranked player sitting at $14,500 – offering some cushion to Anirban. The past two years, players placed 25th earned $33,650 & $36,311 respectively – suggesting that Anirban may have done enough to secure his position for 2016.
With the card nearly secure, it is likely that Anirban decides to head out to Korea for the Presidents Cup. His form has been patchy in the last two events and he can use some time on the range to hone his game before he joins Jason Day and Adam Scott on the international team.
All year, Anirban’s exploits on the international scene have contributed to raise the profile of golf in India. Now that the card is almost a given, it will be interesting to follow his progress and see if he can go one better than Atwal and sustain himself at the highest levels for a long time.